Oxford Couple Avoid Jail Over Conviction For Funding Terrorism

21 June 2019, 16:15 | Updated: 21 June 2019, 16:17

John Letts and Sally Lane

The parents of a Muslim convert dubbed Jihadi Jack have avoided jail after being found guilty of funding terrorism.

Organic farmer John Letts, 58, and former Oxfam fundraising officer Sally Lane, 57, refused to believe their 18-year-old son Jack had become a dangerous extremist when they allowed him to travel, the Old Bailey heard.

They ignored repeated warnings he had joined Islamic State in Syria and sent - or tried to send - a total of £1,723 for him despite being told by police three times not to.

Prosecutor Alison Morgan QC said the couple, from Oxford, "turned a blind eye to the obvious" - that their son had joined the murderous terrorist group by the time they sent £223 in September 2015.

The defendants claimed their son, who suffers from obsessive compulsive disorder, was trapped in Raqqa in Syria and by December 2015 when they tried to send more funds, they were acting under "duress" fearing he was in mortal danger.

A jury deliberated for nearly 20 hours to find the defendants guilty on Friday of one charge of funding terrorism in in September 2015 but not guilty of the same charge in December 2015.

A third charge relating to an attempt to send money in January 2016 was ordered to lie on file after jurors could not agree on a verdict.

There were gasps in the public gallery but the defendants made no reaction in the dock as the verdicts were delivered.

Judge Nicholas Hilliard QC sentenced John Letts and Lane to 15 months' imprisonment, suspended for 12 months "in the very special circumstances of this case".

He said: "It was one thing for parents to be optimistic about their children and I do acknowledge he is your son who you love very much.

"But in this context you did lose sight of realities"

He told the couple: "The warning signs were there for you to see."

He said that they were "intelligent adults" and set aside their suspicions to "please your son".